When company is coming, we take time to prepare for their arrival. The best company is coming, so we prepare for the arrival of our Savior. Jesus is coming. Prophets talked about it as a promise centuries before it happened. John the Baptist will proclaim him and call us to prepare our hearts and lives to receive him. A virgin will say “yes” to God’s will for her life. Special stars in the night sky will illuminate the way to the manger of our Lord. Heaven itself will announce the birth of Jesus to those who God makes worthy. All of it in preparation for a life that will be lived so that our lives experience God’s, steadfast love.
Take time this season. Take time to prepare your houses, your meals, your gifts, and…your…hearts to receive God’s blessing coming in Christ Jesus. And may you have a very, merry Christmas.
We are moving into one of the healthiest times of the year. Did you know that November is good for your health? Why do you suppose that is? It’s because we celebrate Thanksgiving, and giving thanks improves our lives and livelihood in a variety of ways. We read in scripture, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good…” Paul begins his letters to Rome, Corinth, Philippi, Colossae, Thessalonica with a word of thanks to God for the believers in each city. Jesus prays his thanks to God just before raising Lazarus. Our worship services each Sunday give thanks to God for God’s many blessings. All this giving thanks has an effect on us.
Thanksgiving opens doors for more relationships; improves physical health; improves psychological health; enhances empathy, reduces aggression, improves sleep, improves self-esteem, and increases mental strength. And if you combine Thanksgiving with service you have a prescription for glimpsing the kingdom of God breaking into our lives.
We have just such an opportunity Saturday, November 17. There will be an all-day party going. At least four churches will meet at 3:30 p.m. at the Gibsonville Elementary School old gym for pack-a-thon packing meals to help the hungry. At 6:00 p.m. we will all sit down and eat together (drop off a covered dish at the church) at Gibsonville United Methodist Church, then worship at 7:00 p.m. giving thanks to God. You are welcome to attend part or all of the events of the day. I do hope you will take advantage of the opportunity, improve your health, and catch a glimpse of the kingdom of God.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. I thank God for you. You are special; you are loved; you are making a difference.
Keep growing the kingdom,
I love trick or treat and its latest version trunk or treat. Trick or treat came from bribing energetic youth to not play tricks on their neighbors. Cakes, fruits, and later candies were given to encourage potential young tricksters to go ply their trade in another neighbor’s yard. Now, trunk or treat is a play on words. Most youth are not engaging in nefarious evening activities, but enjoy dressing up in costumes from cute to scary to collect treats from open trunks and truck beds decorated in the festive spirit.
The reason I love trick or treating is not because I love a good candy bribe, or even because I like dressing up as the teenage mutant ninja turtle, Raphael. But it is the day when Martin Luther exposed a trick of the church. The church was falsely leading people to believe they needed to buy God’s forgiveness.
Martin Luther rediscovered God’s grace. He found our righteousness is the gift of God to us. We do not, indeed cannot, buy, earn, or otherwise merit God’s divine favor. God’s mercy toward us was won through Jesus, his death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave. 95 statements to this effect were posted on the Wittenburg Chapel church door on October 31, 1517. Little money for the church coffers came to Rome from Germany. Martin was declared a heretic, but his ideas of God’s grace were planted in the hearts of men and women determined to follow Jesus and share his kingdom.
We are a church of the Reformation. It is in our blood to be constantly reforming, i.e. refining our perspective in
God-led ways to better reflect God’s love and kingdom in a world just as determined to do things its own way. The difference is that God’s way of Reformation gives life to all, not just the few. As you look through this missal, circle, highlight, and put on your calendar events meant to enrich your life – October 20, 28, and November 17 are worth a look. God bless you with a Happy Halloween and a Happy Reformation Day.
Keep showing and sharing the kingdom of God,